With all of the family and friends around this time of year, I like having a holiday fruitcake without any alcohol in it around for everyone to be able to enjoy. Traditionally, the rum or brandy in a fruitcake is what keeps it moist and prevents it from spoiling, making it possible for you to keep it on your counter all season long, so this recipe employs a few tricks to help keep your fruitcake delicious for weeks, but believe me, once people have a slice, it won’t last that long.
The recipe’s first key to making a long lasting fruitcake is to only use dried fruit. Some recipes use sautéed apples, applesauce or canned pineapple. By using only dried fruit the cake is less likely to spoil. The mix is also completely to taste and so you can increase flavors or substitute something less traditional like dried blueberries or cherries, keeping in mind to keep the volume similar. I’ve even replaced the nuts in it completely with more dried fruit when I knew there were nut allergy concerns.
The second trick to keeping your fruitcake fresh and moist is by coating it completely with a glaze. I’ve used a maple glaze here, because I think the flavors is very reminiscent of the holidays and pairs nicely with the oranges and other spices, but if maple isn’t your cup of tea try substituting some orange juice or just some heavy cream. Keep in mind that because certain liquids like orange juice are less viscous than maple syrup you’ll have to reduce the quantity slightly. The final product should be about the consistency of molasses.
Applying the glaze in several layers in what allows you to get it on thicker and therefore create a greater barrier on your cake to keep the moisture in and the air out.
I almost always double the recipe, because while it does have a few ingredients, it’s so easy to make and will last all season long, so it’s perfect to keep around the house for unexpected guests or as a last minute take along as a gift or to a party.
You may have noticed that I use paper cuffs to bake the cakes in. This is completely optional and not necessary, but I like the ease of clean up, and it’s an easy way of gifting the cakes to others or bringing a loaf to work or church without then having to worry about getting your loaf pan back. Just wrap the cooled cake, glazed and placed back into the paper cuff with cellophane and a bow, and you’re ready to bring a confection that is sure to please.
The Fruit Company :Orange Spiced Fruit Cake w/ Maple Glaze (Alcohol Free)
1 c butter
1 ½ c sugar
¼ c molasses
3 c all purpose flour
2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t ground nutmeg
1 t ground cloves
1 t ground ginger
1 T ground cinnamon
1 c orange juice
Fruit & Nut Mix
2 c raisins
1 c craisins
1 c dates, roughly chopped
1 c candied cherries (red, green, or a mix of the two)
1 c candied pineapple chunks
½ c candied orange peel
½ c candied ginger, chopped fine
2 c pecans (or walnuts if you prefer)
4 c confectioners sugar
1 c maple syrup
½ c butter, melted
-Preheat oven to 300°F
-Make cake batter by first creaming butter, sugar and molasses in a large bowl with a hand mixer, first on low speed then increasing speed as ingredients become more combined. When mixture is completely incorporated and becomes slightly pale in color, beat in eggs, one egg at a time, incorporating next egg after the previous egg has become absorbed by the mixture
-Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, whisking flour spices and baking powder until completely combined.
-Combine wet and dry ingredients in sections, pouring dry into wet in thirds, alternating with a third of orange juice at a time, until just incorporated. You don’t want to over mix.
-Fold in fruit and nut mixture.
-Fill 4 well greased small loaf pans (approximately 2.5”x 7”x 2”) 4/5 of the way full.
-Place pans onto cookie sheet (for ease) and bake at 300°F for 1 ½ hours or until a toothpick just comes out clean. Cake will still look slightly underdone, but will “set” as it cools.
-Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a rack, approximately 2 hours or overnight
-Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, and melted butter in a medium bowl until completely smooth.
-Carefully unmold cakes and place on wire racks on a cookie sheet. Pour over half of the maple-glazed mixture, allowing the cookie sheet to catch the drips beneath the wire rack. Allow glaze to set for at least one hour and then repeat with the remaining glaze, again allowing glaze to set for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.
About the Author
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A former baker, chef, caterer, and a forever foodie, John is now a writer and essayist, who has written for newspapers and magazines across the country, and enjoys spending his spare time traveling and collecting bow ties.